A woman’s fury is typically trivialized or ignored, but Tracee Ellis Ross sees it as a source of wisdom.
The actress did a TED Talk in early April about women’s anger, and she spoke a good word. She began by sharing a story of a friend who, while visiting a post office, was physically moved by a man because she was blocking his way. Although the man did not seem to have malicious intent, Ross said her friend felt intense emotions.
“A fury rose up in her that she could not explain,” Ross explained. “Not annoyance. Not frustration. But ‘fury’ was the word that she used. And she didn’t know why."
Ross continued with the tale and connected it to the way women’s bodies are violated in patriarchal societies.
“This fury was not my friend’s alone,” Ross continued. “Her fury was ignited by lifetimes of men helping themselves to women’s bodies without consent. There’s a culture of men helping themselves to women.”
The Black-ish actress then paused her diatribe to address the men in the room and encourage them to listen to her speech and sit with any discomfort.
“I feel like this is the point in the room where all the men are getting a little bit uncomfortable,” she said. “It's OK. Stay with me.”
As Ross continued, she spoke about instances where women become justifiably angry including the presidential elections. She drove her point home by asking men how they would feel if someone kept taking their phones from their hands without permission and gave excuses to justify the theft.
She also addressed women’s tendency to downplay or explain away their anger.
“Women have been trained to think that we are overreacting or that we're being too sensitive or unreasonable. We try to make sense of nonsense, and we swallow the furious feelings,” said the 45-year-old. “We try to put them into some hidden place in our minds, but they don't go away.”
The former Girlfriends star then encouraged women to acknowledge and accept their fury and called on men to be allies.
“I encourage you to acknowledge your fury. Give it language,” she concluded. “Share it in safe places of identification and in safe ways. Your fury is not something to be afraid of. It holds lifetimes of wisdom. Let it breathe and listen.”